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Weather & Climate

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The lowest layer of the atmosphere.
Inter Tropical Convergence Zone – area near the Equator where trade winds from NE and SE meet.
Jet Stream
Fast moving current of air in the upper atmosphere.
Trade Winds
Wind that blows steadily from the Tropics to the Equator.
Hadley Cells
A circulation cell near the Equator causing storms at the Equator and desert belts to the North and South.
Ferrel Cells
A circulation cell that brings warm air from the south to the UK.
Polar Cells
A circulation cell over the Poles that brings cold air from the north to the UK.
Gulf Stream
A warm ocean current that flows from Caribbean north into the Atlantic.
North Atlantic Drift
A warm ocean current that flows from the Atlantic past the UK.
Ocean Currents
Movements of warm and cold water that can affect the temperature of the land they flow past.
Thermohaline circulation
The pattern of ocean currents around the world that moves warm water to cold areas and cold water to warm areas.
Prevailing Winds
The direction from which the wind normally blows from.
Geological Scale
This relates to time periods which cover millions and hundreds and tens of thousands of years. These include the Quaternary, Pleistocene and the current Holocene period.
Climate Change
A long term movement in weather and climate patterns and average temperatures across the Earth.
Interglacial Period
A long period of warmer temperatures between glacial periods
Glacial Period
A long period when ice advances due to colder temperatures
Milankovitch Cycles
Long term variations in the orbit of the Earth around the Sun which results in long term changes in climate.
Over 24,000 years the earth wobbles on its axis creating bigger or smaller differences between summer and winter.
Over 100,000 there are changes in the shape of the earth’s orbit, more circular for warmer (interglacial periods) and more elliptical for cooler (glacial periods).
Axial tilt
Over 40,000 years the angle of tilt changes, a greater angle of tilt is associated with higher summer temperatures but cooler winters.
Sun Spots
Activity in the sun which means more energy reaches the Earth leading to warmer temperatures.
Using tree rings to record changes in short- medium term changes in climate.
Greenhouse Gases
A gas that absorbs and re-emits radiation, warming the Earth’s surface.
Greenhouse Effect
The impact that greenhouse gases have on warming the Earth.
Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
The additional warming of the Earth caused by man made emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Eustatic Sea Level Change
Changes in sea level caused by melting ice and thermal expansion.
Thermal Expansion
Volume of water in the sea increasing as the water expands as it gets warmers. Moving heat energy from the Equator to the Poles.
Glacial Retreat
The shrinking of glaciers up the valley caused by warmer temperatures and low snow fall levels.
Crop Yields
The amount of crops and food produced, majorly impacted by changes in climate (rain and sun levels).
Climate Cycles
Long term changes in the climate around the Earth caused by different factors which can lead to glacial and interglacial periods.
Climate Graph
A bar and line chart to show average rainfall and temperature each month over a number of years.
Spatial Variations
Differences in something on the Earth’s surface. Relates to how different locations will suffer different consequences of climate change.
Water in the atmosphere falling down to earth as rain, sleet, snow or ice.
Air Masses
Large areas of either warm or cold air. When they meet they can cause rain.
Polar Maritime
Cold and moist air mass from the north west which brings cold and wet weather, often snow in winter.
Tropical Maritime
Warm and moist air mass from the south west which brings warm and wet weather.
Polar Continental
Cold and dry air mass from the north east which often brings cold and dry weather in winter. Can bring warm weather in summer.
Arctic Maritime
Cold and moist air mass from the north bringing very cold and damp weather, often snow in winter.
Tropical Continental
Warm and dry air mass from the south / south east which often brings very warm and dry weather in summer.
Coriolis Force
The deflection of air movement caused by the spinning of the Earth. Creates the spinning wind pattern around low pressure systems.
Low Pressure System
Often creating wet and windy weather as rising air draws in wind from the sides and causes heavy rainfall.
Imaginary lines running around the Earth 23.5 degrees north and south of the Equator, often with dry and hot climates.
Imaginary line running around the centre of the Earth. Warm all year and can be very wet.
The path that a hurricane follows.
Eye Wall
An area around the calm centre (Eye) of a tropical storm which has the strongest winds and heaviest rain.
Saffir-Simpson Scale
The scale on which hurricanes are measures in terms of sustained windspeeds from 1 (119-153 kmh) to 5 (more than 250 kmh)
Storm Surge
An increase in the height of the sea caused by low pressure and high winds. Can cause great damage when they reach land.
An area with little or no regular rainfall
An extended period with lower than normal rainfall / precipitation which leads to water shortages.
Meteorological Drought
Water shortages caused by lower than normal rainfall.
Hydrological Drought
The impact of reduced rainfall and other factors on water levels and the water cycle in a region.
Global Circulation
The movement of heat energy around the Earth. This has a major impact on weather and climate.
Natural Hazard
A natural event which can cause problems for people and the environment.
When humans take more water from the ground that is being replaced by rainfall.
El Nino
A cyclical change in sea temperature patterns in the Pacific Ocean which can have major impacts on weather and climate in the Americas and East Asia and Australasia.